The unquestioned stud of the upcoming free agent class is Rangers’ lefty C.J. Wilson, which pretty much says it all. Wilson is having a fine year, but he’s spent much of his career as a reliever, which is both a blessing and a curse. How do you project what the next six years are going to look like for him? He’s also 31 years old, though he has less mileage on his arm due to those years working out of the bullpen. Beyond Wilson, there’s basically nothing. Edwin Jackson and Mark Buehrle are decent pitchers to be sure, but they don’t seem like a fit financially for the Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda is an attractive option, but he doesn’t seem eager to leave the West Coast. And the best name on the list after that is probably Javier Vazquez. Yeah.
The wild card in the mix is Japanese youngster Yu Darvish, who most people expect to be posted this offseason, with the Yankees almost certain to be in the mix for his services. Darvish is probably the only outsider I’m truly interested in as a potential free agent acquisition, and if he can’t be acquired I honestly hope the Yankees don’t do anything on the free agent market this winter.
I hate to use the term “bridge year” but, well, that’s what I think 2012 is likely to be for the Yankees’ rotation. Looking at things as they stand now, C.C. Sabathia (assuming he’s re-signed) and Ivan Nova are obviously locks for a spot, and Phil Hughes probably should be as well unless he has an atrocious spring. And while I wouldn’t mind A.J. Burnett spending the remaining two seasons on his contract in the bullpen, I think it’s pretty safe to assume he’ll get another chance to right the ship at the beginning of 2012. So that leaves one spot open, a spot sme are already imagining Wilson filling, something I really hope doesn’t come to pass. It’s not that Wilson isn’t a good pitcher, it’s that I fear the sort of contract he’s likely to get. There was talk of a Burnett-esque deal earlier in the year, but after the season he’s turned in this season and the scarcity of good options on the market, I think it’s pretty likely he’ll be getting something in the 6 year $100 million range.
Another factor to consider is that, in the longer term, the Yankees aren’t necessarily starved for pitching right now. Beyond Sabathia, Nova, and Hughes, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances figure to arrive soon, and the Bombers have other youngsters like Hector Noesi, David Phelps, and Adam Warren who might be able to fill a short-term hole, and who knows, they might even surprise us. You also have to consider that, right now, the 2013 free agent class is quite deep in pitching, with Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Shaun Marcum, Zack Greinke, John Danks, and Francisco Liriano scheduled to headline the ranks. Some of those guys will get signed, but at least a few of them will likely make it to the market.
So on the whole, I think I’m more or less fine with letting the young guys currently in the organization have a crack at that 5th starter spot next year, or maybe even bringing back Bartolo Colon for another campaign. Either way, you can consider this the official launch of my “Just say no to C.J. Wilson!” campaign.